We are back this week to our discussion of grid-work. Next up are filled grids. When you want maximum texture on your quilts, filled grids are the way to go. Whenever parts of the grid framework are stitched and other parts are left un-stitched the result is texture.


Stitching tamps down the batting and creates low places. Leaving parts with no stitching allows the batting to pouf (Isn’t that a great word? I love words that sound like their meaning. Pouf!). The batting poufs up and creates a high place. The contrast between the low place next to the high place is Texture.

Fill every other grid box

Just like always, we start with the grid. I use filled grids more for background quilting, so my grids tend to be small. The grid squares in the photo are 1/2 inch.

Decide whether you want to stitch the grid or simply mark it as a guide.

Pro-Tip: Stitching the grid is a bit more forgiving when filling the grid. When it is not stitched you must be careful to fill right to the grid line. Not beyond it, and not shy of it, but right-to-the-line. That will keep the shape of the grid “boxes” and you will achieve even texture. When the grid is stitched it helps define the grid boxes and you can get away with a small amount of deviance. 

Let’s start with using the straight line for our fill, just like in the photo above.

Pro-tip: mark the grid boxes you want to fill with a removable mark to help you keep going right.

Mark every other box alternating rows, like this:


Stitch back and forth in each of the marked grid boxes to fill the box. Make a choice whether you will make the ends of your lines straight or curved. Straight is easier to keep the grid lines nice and crisp. Curved is easier to quilt, because it flows.






As usual I start in the upper left corner. If you are not quilting the grid lines, the first line you quilt should follow the grid line.


Stitch down along the grid line. Have a plan for the spacing of your quilting lines. Try for even spacing as best you can but don’t worry too much about it.

Then quilt back to the left.


Continue in this manner to fill the box. Your last quilting line should follow the bottom of the box grid line and end on the right. This will make it possible to stitch continuously using 2 rows at a time.

Keep stitching on that same grid line across the top of the marked box in the next row.


Fill this next box in the same way, BUT end on the LEFT this time. You’ll want to go back to the first row for the next box to fill.


Did you notice it took an extra stitched line within that box to accomplish ending on the left?

Pro-tip: until you get comfortable with this design, you can stop at the end of one box and finger trace your next path to fill the next box. Knowing where you’re going is half the battle!


Follow the grid line to the left and fill the bottom box in row 1. End on the RIGHT.


At this point you can decide to tie off and cut your thread, to go up to the top of row 3 and start again. Or you can choose to travel along the grid line to the bottom of row three and work your way up the grid. I’ll travel.


You guessed it, fill the next box. End on the right.


Since my grid only has 3 rows, I’ll travel up along the outside of the grid to the next box I need to fill.


And fill the last box.


When I finish filling a grid like this, I like to stitch around the entire grid to define it. Often this is stitch-in-the-ditch work.  Do it! It makes the whole quilt look so much better!


Last but not least, remove your marked grid and the marks you used to indicate the boxes you wanted to fill.


This graphic looks a little incomplete but when you are quilting this it comes out looking very nice. Refer to the photo of the filled grid at the beginning of the post. The grid lines were not stitched there and yet you can clearly see the grid.

Have some fun trying out filling a few grids with straight lines. Try both straight edges and curved edges to see which one you like better.

Next week we will look at some different filled grids. After all we have the 5 basic shapes!